Inspiration: Melissa Lee — A standout AAPI leader and sustainability visionary

Credit: Sophia Atwell, ESW Global

By Saul Myhre, Alliance Intern from University of Minnesota Twin Cities

We’re excited to kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month with Melissa Lee, NAWBO Environmental Advocate of the Year. She is bringing about sustainability and cultural acceptance through her innovative organization The GREEN Program (TGP), which she founded at only 19 years old, according to ESW. TGP “is educating and empowering future sustainability leaders through experiential education, travel, adventure” and action, according to Lee, a US Global Schools Ambassador for the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

“Climate change is our world’s most pressing issue, and we believe that transformative education and design plays a critical role in helping us achieve a sustainable future for our people and planet,” Lee points out. Since 2009, TGP has traveled with more than 3,600 interdisciplinary student leaders and young professionals from 470+ universities and 70 countries. Participants undertake groundbreaking capstone projects, such as creating community-owned clean water systems in Cusco and cleaning up 11 million tons of CO2/year in Jordan.

TGP offers a wide range of programs, from 8 to 10-day experiential education and virtual Smart Certificate programs to an MS in International Sustainable Development & Climate Change. These and other efforts have led Lee to be named a Forbes 30 Under 30, and receive The Stevie Awards for Women in Business. 

Lee has a powerful belief about the role each of us needs to play: “To tackle climate change, businesses and institutions must act quickly and decisively. This entails lowering their carbon dioxide emissions, making investments in renewable energy sources, and putting sustainable business strategies into reality. By promoting sustainability in our education systems and places of work, there is an opportunity to utilize skills to create sustainable solutions, and supporting sustainability efforts in our local communities. If more people take climate action in their own way, we can collectively move closer to a sustainable future.”

So, how are you going to bring about sustainability in your personal and professional life?

Learn more about The GREEN Program


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